Why Same-Sex Marriage Is Still Wrong, But Repealing DADT Is Right
From the right, there's not much to like about gay men.
The highly vocal and visible queer fringe publicly celebrates extreme promiscuity, sadomasochism, transvestitism, transsexuality and flamboyant effeminacy. It is so unabashedly Marxist that even Marx himself would blush. It is anti-military, anti-patriarchal, anti-nuclear family, anti-Christian, aspirationally vegan and virulently anti-Western. Queer theorists—the pink-haired, punk rock stepchildren of feminists—blame straight white men for all of the wickedness the world has to offer.
Gay moderates, much like moderate Muslims, offer their tacit approval to queer extremists because they refuse to openly condemn extreme behavior for fear that they'll look like traitors, Uncle Toms or hypocrites. Gay conservatives of any variety are scarce as leprechauns, and not nearly so beloved by their lucky fellows when spotted. The average gay man is politically progressive and politically correct, he's a multiculturalist, and like his fellow progressives he's particularly enamored with European styles of government, however failed and fundamentally flawed. Ask the average gay fella to "act like a man" and you'll often uncover a simmering, patricidal rage aimed at what his Berkley-trained pals call "heteronormative" masculine ideals. He rather likes the way manliness looks, of course, but traditional behavioral codes of manhood seem to exclude him—and he's a bit sour about it. So he finds comfort in feminist talking points. He claims to believe that the sexes are basically the same, that "true" masculinity is so flexible a concept that it can mean whatever he wants it to mean, and that most straight men are emotionally stunted and trapped in a labyrinth of pointless, counterproductive old codes. Being "liberated" from these codes makes him feel, at least privately, a bit more evolved than his knuckle-dragging hetero peers. This phenomenon has made many homosexual men the sworn enemies of traditional Western manhood.
There are two big "homosexual questions" currently in play in American politics: same-sex marriage and allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the military. Quasi-conservative arguments have been made in favor of both, but each gains a majority of its support from the progressive left. So the knee-jerk reaction from the right is to respond to both with the garbled consternation of the bloated, slobbering and confused Grand Old Party. The two questions are fundamentally different, and deserve separate consideration.
Same-sex marriage, however good its proponents believe it might be for homosexuals, is essentially an attempt to subvert the cultural primacy of the reproductive family. Gays will not allow themselves to consider the fact that this spells death for civilizations, and that society has a rational interest in promoting big, patriarchal families above all other arrangements. The idea that somehow, without any cultural apparatus to encourage or foster it, men and women will naturally take on the burden of raising a large family at any cost is simply absurd and proven wrong by below replacement level birth rates in Europe. Cultures that don't place the highest value on reproductive families die out, and their numbers are replaced by cultures that do. It's happening in Europe, and it's happening in the US. While alternative relationships need not be openly scorned, and they may deserve some sort of reasonable accommodation, it isn't in the best interest of Western Civilization-or any civilization-to morally or institutionally equate reproductive and non-reproductive sexuality. Reproductive sexuality is an indispensable building block of civilization; it serves society as a whole. Non-reproductive sexuality is, in the big picture, basically a "feel-good."
In spite of the rote protests from same-sex marriage advocates, many of them do seek a redefinition of the basic rules of marriage. As I have long observed, and a recent study confirms, same-sex "marriages" are very often non-monogamous, "open" relationships. The NYT article cited spells it out: "some experts say boundary-challenging gay relationships represent an evolution in marriage—one that might point the way for the survival of the institution." Many gays believe that altering marriage in this way would be good for everyone, but heterosexual relationships have a different dynamic, and I've met few straight men or women who truly want or who could even tolerate an "open" marriage. I fail to see how "evolving" marriage in this way would provide a stable environment for child rearing in the long run. What works for two men will not necessarily work for a man and a woman.
Same-sex marriage is also a symbolic victory for those who want to see the sexes rendered absolutely interchangeable. It's about the dissolution of traditional gender roles. There is no husband or wife, merely a set of "partners" engaged in an easily dissolved, mutually beneficial business arrangement. This is another way in which same-sex marriage reconfigures traditional marriage to bring it into alignment with the models preferred by feminists and other cultural Marxists. Strong, patriarchal families have always been a bulwark to Marxism. Interchangeable ants with loose ties to one another work much better in the Marxist ant farm.
There is a rational middle ground between criminalizing homosexuality and equating reproductive sexuality with non-reproductive sexuality. What we've learned about homosexuals in a generation or two of open homosexuality is that, objectionable ideological leanings aside, for the most part homosexual men aren't predatory, and they can be productive citizens who follow the rules. Instead of repeating the ill-informed barbarisms of the past, we can acknowledge homosexual men as a human resource and integrate them into mainstream civilization, but at the same time refuse to redesign Western Civilization in the image of San Francisco. Allowing homosexual men to serve openly in the military is that kind of rational, right-thinking compromise.
A Right-Thinking Repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"
Allowing women to serve in the military dissolves traditional gender roles, and in the big picture contributes to a reduced birth rate. It's also pretty obviously a triumph of ideology over efficiency. That issue isn't even on the table any more. But anyone arguing from the right against a change to DADT on the basis that it would somehow decrease efficiency or morale should at least have the courage to go on record saying that allowing women to serve in the military is exponentially less efficient and exponentially more disruptive than allowing a small percentage of men to be open and honest about their atypical sexual preference could ever be.
Allowing homosexual women to serve in the military will encourage their non-traditional gender expression, but we already allow women to serve in the military, so that's kind of a moot point. A recent blog post at The Volokh Conspiracy made some reasonable points about lesbians in the military. They are less likely to get pregnant, less likely to get STDs, and if you believe that they are particularly manly women, they may do better (and be less disruptive to male social dynamics) than straight women in the military. It could be a good thing, so long as you don't let lesbian politics get a foothold, or allow their nesting tendency to push the military into validating same-sex marriages.
Allowing more men to serve in the military upholds traditional gender roles. If your complaint about homosexual men is that they are flamboyantly effeminate, punishing the ones who want to conform to masculine gender norms by joining the military is just bitchy.
As far as I'm aware, there are no popular proposals to recreate the Sacred Band of Thebes, or establish special "gay" units outfitted with flirty pink spandex uniforms. A mockery of military masculinity may be a concern for many, but that's not what is being proposed.
A right-thinking revision of the military policy regarding homosexuality would eliminate a problematic government restriction without creating a new problematic entitlement. It would accomplish this, and only this: It would stop men (and women) who are conforming to every other military code of behavior and honorable conduct from being dismissed from the military as a result of admitting homosexual behavior in their private, civilian lives. It would allow homosexual men with a respect for order and a desire to live honorable lives in service to their nation to do so without the dishonesty that DADT requires.
A right-thinking revision of the military policy regarding homosexuality would include no special rules, no special standards, no special entitlements, no over-compensating political correctness, no coddling. Problems encountered by homosexuals in the military and their peers should be handled judiciously on a case-by-case basis, as they occur, and tracked until patterns emerge and informed decisions can be made about how to handle them.
While there are certainly reasonable concerns about changing DADT policy, the most fevered objections seem to have sprung forth from the lurid gay-panic nightmares of the men making them. But heterosexual men willingly share locker rooms and showers with known or suspected homosexual men in gyms across the country every day. Young men have homosexual roommates "come out" to them all the time and many remain friends. It is no longer uncommon for college fraternities to accept homosexual members. This has been going on for at least a couple of decades now in the civilian world, so pretending that mixing openly homosexual men with heterosexual men is some completely untested "social experiment" being forced on the military is not accurate.
I work with blue collar straight men every day, and I recently shared a hotel room with a few of them during an out of town trip. Their biggest complaint was my snoring. These are regular guys, though, and if they'd been asked whether or not they'd be comfortable sharing a room with a known homosexual man-without knowing me-of course they would have said that they'd rather not. But because they knew me, it was no big deal. I suspect most reasonably masculine homosexual men who interact with straight men "in the wild" and outside of politically correct, protected zones will recognize that duplicity. A common reflex for men is to envision the worst-case hypothetical homosexual-probably some prancing theater queen eager to play grab-ass-and that should be taken into account when evaluating the importance of military polls concerning DADT.
The key to successful homo/hetero male friendships is simply maintaining a healthy respect for boundaries. Isn't respect for boundaries really the key to any male friendship or social interaction? Homosexual men who do not respect the sexual boundaries of their straight peers quickly find themselves pushed out to the "omega" zone. They're shut out socially, as they should be. The same goes for flamboyantly effeminate homosexuals. In the military, I suspect an openly homosexual male who does not respect those boundaries, or who becomes persistently flamboyant, is going to find himself a very lonely guy, very quickly-no matter what the official policy on homosexuality is. However, my experience has been that if you act like a man, men will treat you like one. If a homosexual man respects other men's boundaries, and he puts his "identity" aside, for the most part they'll include him and judge him based on his conduct and whatever else he brings to the table.
I am in contact with several homosexual men who are currently serving in the military, and have interacted with or heard the stories of several others. They are the best examples of what homosexual men can be, and often find that their own values are in conflict with the values of the mainstream gay community. They tend to defy expectations and disprove negative stereotypes. They're in the military because they're trying to be good men.
Of course, if you object to homosexuals serving openly in the military on mainly religious grounds, it's possible that no extra-religious argument will be able to sway you into believing that these men truly can be good men. But if you're willing to concede that a homosexual man can be good man, why not allow him to prove you right?
One of the most popular-but also one of the worst-arguments against allowing homosexual men to serve openly was summed up last year by James Bowman:
They say they demand the "right" to make the supreme sacrifice for their country, and yet they are unwilling to make the presumably lesser sacrifice of being publicly reticent about their sexual behavior, or the sacrifice of not being in the military.
Bowman's book about Honor is excellent, but his position here is crass. DADT is enforced in such a way that any evidence of homosexual behavior-even in off-duty, off-base, private life-can and has been used in investigations leading to discharge. That means any private photo, any email, any instant message provided to the military by anyone, civilian or service member, can initiate an investigation even if the soldier in question is completely silent about his sexuality while on-duty.
Someone taking this position has obviously never really tried to imagine exactly what being "publicly reticent" about one's sexual behavior would actually mean if one lived in close quarters with other men, under stress, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Anyone who has ever socialized with young men, or even watched a movie that shows men socializing, knows that one of the ways young men bond with each other when women aren't around is by talking about women and sex with women. The topic is going to come up again and again in routine casual conversation-no "flaunting" of sexuality necessary. Being "publicly reticent" also means that homosexual men can never speak to their fellow soldiers-their brothers in arms-about a meaningful part of their lives. No talk of someone "back home." Guarded phone calls. Deception. Fake back stories. These men who work so closely with one another and who are supposed to be willing to lay down their lives for each other can never really know this "publicly reticent" homosexual who shrouds his personal life in secrecy. The existing policy denies these men their basic humanity and implies that their personal relationships are no more important to them than if they were casual backroom encounters.
Further, isn't it inconsistent to suggest on one hand that homosexuals are morally dissolute and then on the other hold them to a higher moral standard and demand that they make more sacrifices than their peers who are already doing some of the hardest jobs in the world?
The gay left may see the repeal of DADT as another checkbox on their cultural Marxism checklist, but support for the "right to serve" in the military from the left seems conflicted at best. These are the same people who drive around with the "It Will Be a Great Day When the Schools Get All the Money They Need and the Air Force Has to Hold a Bake Sale to Buy a Bomber" bumper stickers. Many whine about the rationales for current wars, but in truth they would find a reason to oppose virtually any war. In most cases, the reason they are on the left in the first place is because they buy into a non-violent "noble savage" fantasy of human nature. They look down on men who join the military, and in many cases consider them to be "part of the problem." Displaying this outright disgust for the military in the media is political suicide, so smart progressive politicos drop all of the right feel-good phrases about service and honor-though traditional concepts of honor are repugnant to them. To the left, the military is just another government agency to lobby for progressive interpretations of "equality" and "change." Ending DADT is an opportunity for the left to get something right in spite of itself.
A Path of Honor
As I suggested at the start of this essay, it's easy to think of gay men as the Cavity Creeps of Western Civilization.
But this is at least in part because conservatives and homosexuals have both failed to envision a path of honor for homosexual men in a right-thinking society. Until recently, Western conservative thought was so tightly tethered to Biblical condemnations of homosexuality that envisioning such a role was impossible. Right now there are disenfranchised, bitter fags promoting cultural Marxism actively or passively at every level of society. But it doesn't have to be this way, and it hasn't always been this way.
We don't know what causes male homosexuality. There are competing theories, some more convincing than others, and certain traits appear to correlate strongly with male homosexuality.
The nature of homosexuality makes it difficult to measure-it's not an obvious trait, like having green eyes or brown hair. Homosexuality is a behavior, and while you could conceivably study every single self-identifying, exclusively homosexual male, there's a lot of homosexual behavior going on out there in the world that happens behind closed doors. We can't, with any reasonable level of certainty, say that we know the mind and body of every man who has ever had a voluntary sexual experience with another man. Even today, there are men who have sex with other men who are not "out;" some will remain married with children. If we were somehow able to throw those guys into the mix, the data pool would probably get muddier and further challenge what we think we know about males who engage in homosexual activity.
Science has failed to discover a magical on/off switch for male homosexuality-and not for lack of trying. It's probably just not that simple; there may be multiple combinations of factors involved. Male homosexuality, like many human behaviors, may be caused by complex interactions of nature and nurture, of biology and psychology.
What we do know is that homosexuality happens. There is evidence that male homosexuality has occurred in some form in almost every known human society. It has been institutionalized, controlled, repressed or outlawed to varying degrees -- but it happens. Faced with the reality of millions of reasonably productive and mentally stable men and women, putting political ideologies aside, even many social conservatives are now willing to admit that homosexuality is more complicated and more difficult to correct than mere vice. We may never know what causes male homosexual desire in every instance, so perhaps it is fairest to think of it as a case of "crossed wiring."
So long as their sexual behavior is consenting and poses no direct physical threat to others, allowing men to do what they want to do with their own bodies on their own time is "liberty." We don't have to throw parades to celebrate it or socially equate it with reproductive sexuality, but having big brother policing what men do in their own bedrooms is an offense to their individual sovereignty. It may have happened throughout American history, but on a conceptual level it is fundamentally un-American. American soldiers fight to protect a nation wherein, unless there's a damn good reason, we can tell the government to get off our lawn.
If we take the rational position and acknowledge that "homosexuality happens" and admit that while homosexual behavior is controllable, homosexual desire is in most cases practically intractable, can we conceive of a way to successfully integrate homosexual men into a civilization that isn't suicidal? If homosexual men can get over their "daddy issues" with patriarchy and straight men can put aside the "gross-out factor" associated with male homosexuality, we can meet in the middle and come up with some third way between total repression and hedonistic liberation that allows homosexual men to serve rather than undermine a right-thinking, sustainable, family-oriented Western civilization.
A common apprehension about tolerating homosexuality is that it will lead to widespread effeminacy. While a quick flip through the cable channels should strike fear into the hearts of all red-blooded American men, metrosexuals and emo kids are symptoms of the collapse of traditional gender roles brought on by feminism and our pampered, industrialized society, not merely the tolerance of homosexuality.
Some studies of homosexuality seem to track a lack of manliness more convincingly than they track homosexual behavior itself. On average, more male homosexuals are less manly than their straight male counterparts. But this is only correlation. There are some extremely effeminate straight men. There are also many male homosexuals who test well in areas where men typically excel, or whose everyday conduct blends into the normal range of male behavior. It makes sense to distinguish between homosexuality and effeminacy.
Manliness, as Harvey C. Mansfield put it, "is an exclusion of women but a reproach to men, to unmanly men." The feminist answer to this, advanced by effeminate straight men like Michael Kimmel, is to reject the notion of a manly ideal outright as an oppressive, destructive fiction. Take your toys and go play like the girls. This is also the typical gay response to the reproach of men. The traditional male approach has been to recognize a certain hierarchy of manliness and make peace with the fact while manliness is the ideal, men are varied in their abilities and are able to embody that ideal to different degrees. Most men can admire manliness in other men and agree that manliness is good, while acknowledging that some men are manlier than others. No matter who you are, you are not always going to be the alpha-men award points for valor, and ask that you do the best you can.
It is possible for a society to accept that homosexuality happens, even as it continues to reproach unmanly men. Flamboyant effeminacy seeks an affirming audience. If homosexuality is tolerated but effeminacy is socially discouraged, if even omegas are expected to behave like men to the best of their ability, then the acceptance of homosexuality will have a negligible impact on the manliness of society as a whole. Flamboyant effeminacy is only a degenerative problem when it is celebrated, as it is in contemporary gay culture and sensationalist pop culture. If homosexuality is tolerated, but homosexual men are held to the same standards of masculine conduct as other men, we can begin to look for ways that non-reproductive men might be better suited for certain roles that support the infrastructure of a sane society.
Serving in the military is certainly not the only way that homosexual men can contribute to society-not everyone is suited for military life. A volunteer military can't function unless there are men trading, innovating, working hard and serving their communities in the private sector. There are other paths of honor open to homosexual men, and we should encourage them to take them.
But where manhood is concerned, there is truly no "equivalent" of war. Strength is masculinity's defining metaphor, and no experience tests a man's mettle like the crucible of combat. Barring homosexual men from military service is an offense to their manhood, a dishonor that suggests they are somehow by the nature of their sexuality alone unfit for the rigors of combat. This is clearly not the case.
Consider the humbling story of Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach. No matter what his personal political beliefs might be-it really doesn't matter-this man has achieved more as a man than most men ever will. In 22 years of service he's been awarded nine air medals, including one for heroism. He received it for piloting a malfunctioning fighter jet through enemy missile fire and ultimately destroying his target on the night the army took Baghdad. In 2008, a third party revealed his sexuality to the military, and now he's facing discharge under DADT. The fact that our government is worried about what a guy like this does in his bedroom when he's off duty should be a source of national shame. I would love to see some spoiled, corrupt, limp-dick senator tell this man to his face why he hasn't earned his pension.
Homosexual inclinations alone do not make men unfit for combat, but the very nature of homosexuality makes it unlikely that most homosexual men will ever raise a family. This may actually make them a better fit for the military in some cases. Homosexual men are free agents, able to accept stressful positions that require long or inconsistent hours or a substantial amount of travel—factors that can put pressure on growing families. Unattached homosexual men are in a better position to take risks, to relocate, to take stations in isolated areas. They're better suited to give their lives to their work.
The most exciting thing about the alternative right is that it offers those of us who grew up in the modern age to release ideas from both the right and the left- to reconsider, recalibrate and recombine them. We came of age during a period where a grand social experiment was underway, an age of flux. Our ancestors had less information than we do, but they weren't idiots. Not all traditions are arbitrary and outdated. They were solutions to basic human problems, and many of those old solutions are still relevant today. There are pillars of Western Civilization which must be rebuilt if it is to survive, but also some that we can do without. There have been inefficiencies and injustices in the past, but modernity has created its own inefficiencies and injustices.
Men who came of age in the 1980s, 1990s and the naughts have in many cases come to regard homosexuality as a virtual non-issue. This is due in part to the left's sexual revolution, but also to the deluge of information that flows through the Internet. What was once unspeakable and shrouded in secrecy and lurid rumor is now accessible to the curious with a few keystrokes. Most men know that there are despicable gay males who validate every negative stereotype and even help create new ones. But they have also worked with or known a few openly homosexual men who were basically decent, productive guys who have benefited from healthy male influences and strong male role models.
Many young men have, however, also begun to recognize that the sexual revolution has its downsides for men and women and society as a whole. If Western culture is to survive in any recognizable form, the patriarchal, nuclear family cannot become a quaint anachronism that thrives only in the state of Utah. A new balance must be found.
The project before us is to revive and reinvigorate the West. It is my hope that we can learn from the 20th Century experiment, and do this armed with a better understanding of male homosexuality.
Allowing homosexual men to serve openly in the military is one way that we can literally enlist them in the service of Western Civilization, instead of as the agents of its destruction.